The U.S. Department of Justice is reportedly moving forward with its plans to file an antitrust lawsuit against Google LLC over its alleged monopoly of the online advertising market.

A report by Bloomberg today said DOJ officials are expected to file the lawsuit within the next few weeks, despite attempts by Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. to reach a settlement and avoid wider regulatory action. Google has reportedly made multiple attempts to appease the DOJ in recent weeks, including at least one offer of a settlement in recent days, but those efforts have failed to sway the antitrust investigators, Bloomberg said.

Google currently holds a commanding share of the online ad sales market, with its revenue topping $31.7 billion in the last year. The DOJ will argue in its lawsuit that Google’s ad business unit’s practices are anticompetitive.

The DOJ has been investigating allegations that Google has abused its position at the top of the market to maintain its dominance at the expense of rival firms. However, Google argues that it faces very real competition from companies such as Amazon.com Inc. and Meta Platforms Inc.

Last week, it was reported that Google had offered to spin off a part of its business that auctions and places ads on its digital properties as a separate entity controlled by Alphabet. That offer has apparently been rejected, but a spokesperson for Google told Bloomberg the company does not plan to sell its ad tech business.

“We have been engaging constructively with regulators to address their concerns,” the spokesperson told Bloomberg. “As we’ve said before, we have no plans to sell or exit this business, and we’re deeply committed to providing value to a wide array of publisher and advertiser partners in a highly competitive sector.”

The DOJ declined to comment on the latest report but has previously warned that a lawsuit is on the cards. “You’re going to see a lot more litigation from the antitrust division,” Doha Mekki, a DOJ official who’s expected to lead the lawsuit, told Bloomberg in April. “The division’s position is we are not planning to take settlements.”

The report comes at a time when Google has been facing mounting pressure from government agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission, over allegations of potentially anticompetitive and harmful business practices. Google was slapped with a lawsuit by the DOJ in 2020 over “unlawful monopolies” in its online search and advertising business.

Google is also facing heavy antitrust scrutiny in Europe, where the European Commission has launched a probe into its advertising tech business. That investigation is said to focus on whether or not Google has breached European Union competition laws with its YouTube advertising practices.

At present, it’s possible to purchase YouTube ads only using Google’s own ad purchasing services. Google has reportedly offered to alter this policy and allow other companies to broker the sale of YouTube ads as a way to avert another potentially costly lawsuit.

Photo: Google

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